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Gold Coast Open 2019

Gold Coast Open 2019


by Andrew FitzPatrick

The Gold Coast Open has been won by GM Zong-Yuan Zhao for the 4th time on count-back from GM Bobby Cheng. The Australian Olympiad duo finished with 7.0/9.0 to be half a point clear Queensland IM’s Stephen Solomon and Brodie McClymont.

The tournament was held at the Quality Hotel Mermaid Waters for the first time, and the feedback around the venue has been generally excellent. The Premier and top boards of the Major division were held in a spacious room with the remaining Major boards and Minor tournament being played in a separate upstairs room, there was even enough space for an analysis and commentary room!

Premier, Major and Commentary rooms

The Premier division this year was not as strong as last, but still ranked as one of the stronger events on the calendar, and likely the strongest event in Queensland this year. There were 3 GM’s – Aussies Zong-Yuan Zhao, Bobby Cheng and Englishman Daniel Fernandez, along with 4 IM’s – Stephen Solomon and Brodie McClymont the locals, with Irene Sukandar (Indonesia) and Kanan Izzat (Azerbaijan) also joining the field again. The field also had players from Singapore, Spain, New Zealand and Sri Lanka represented in the field to provide plenty of international flavour (although a number of the ‘internationals’ do live locally!).


Left to right: Sukandar, Paevskiy, Izzat, Goh

Grandmaster Norms were only an absolute outside chance this year, however there were IM norms being a possibility if the draw fell kindly and players stepped up to the required level. Two of the fields FM’s, Dusan Stojic and Tom Maguire were in the hunt during the event with Maguire in particular being quite close to achieving the feat.

The tournament was won by Zhao and Cheng with 7/9 with Zhao claiming his 4th Gold Coast Open title on count-back. =3rd place was shared by the local IM’s Solomon and McClymont, whilst the stand-out performance for the event was Maguire who finished in 5th place, complete with knocking off higher rated players IM Izzat and Fedja Zulfic and drawing with GM Fernandez and IM Solomon.

The early surprise packet was youngster James Kay on his return to the Queensland chess scene as he showed his tactical prowess to rise to 3/4 at one stage before slowly falling down the rankings after hitting FM Stojic and IM McClymont in consecutive rounds, whilst FM Stojic  (below, left) reached 5/6 and looked in a strong position to challenge before running into a couple of GM’s that dented his chances in the closing stages.

IM Solomon (above, right against Byron Morris) provided a few of his endgame technique masterclasses with a round 2 win versus Gold Coast youngster Byron Morris in an ending featuring two knights versus a lone pawn where Solomon managed to shepherd Morris’s king towards the corner and then allow the pawn to move as he checkmated (and thus avoided stalemating). In round 5 he then won a double rook and pawn ending against GM Cheng, much to the amazement of those in the commentary room who thought a draw was definitely on the cards.

South Australia’s Zulfic had a miraculous escape in the final round against the Spanish player Damia Benet Morant. Zulfic looked in serious trouble after walking into a minefield of bishop crossfire where he dropped some material before Morant missed multiple wins and allowed Zulfic to march his king all the way up to g3 where it helped to deliver checkmate!

As an observer to the event, one thing that really stood out to me was the technique and knowledge the top end of the field showed. Of course there are many tactical motifs in the games, however the level of endgame technique that proved decisive shows how important it is for players to learn endgame technique and knowledge.

To play through the top 8 boards from each round, click here.


Premier Prize Winners:


Gold Coast – 27/06/2019, 01/07/2019

Rated Player Group at round 9

Group limits:  2201 <= rating <= 2600

Pos score ID NAME                 | Rtg   T  Fed |   BucM    Buc1    BucT    Prizes


1  7.0   1 Zhao,Zong-Yuan       | 2529  GM AUS |    40.5    47.5    51.5 Eq 1st and Champion $1250

2  7.0   2 Cheng,Bobby          | 2525  GM AUS |    39.5    46.5    49.5 Eq 1st $1250

3  6.5   6 Solomon,Stephen J    | 2320  IM AUS |    40.5    47.5    51.0 Eq 3rd $400

4  6.5   7 McClymont,Brodie     | 2311  IM AUS |    36.5    43.5    46.5 Eq 3rd $400

5  5.5   4 Fernandez,Daniel How | 2466  GM ENG |    40.0    47.0    51.5 Eq 6th $150

6  5.5   3 Izzat,Kanan          | 2481  IM AZE |    37.5    44.5    48.5 Eq 6th $150

7  5.5   5 Sukandar,Irine Khari | 2378  IM INA |    35.0    42.0    45.0 Eq 6th $150


Group limits:  2000 <= rating <= 2200

Pos score ID NAME                 | Rtg   T  Fed |   BucM    Buc1    BucT


1  6.0  12 Maguire,Tom          | 2121     AUS |    40.0    47.0    49.0 5th $250

2  5.5  10 Zulfic,Fedja         | 2160     AUS |    32.0    39.0    42.0 U2200 1st $200

3  5.0  13 Kethro,Michael       | 2084  FM AUS |    32.0    38.0    41.0 U2200 2nd $100



Group limits:  1 <= rating <= 1999

Pos score ID NAME                 | Rtg   T  Fed |   BucM    Buc1    BucT


1  5.0  19 Goh,Sean Christian   | 1981     SGP |    34.5    40.5    42.5 U2000 Eq 1st $100

2  5.0  22 Parle,Hughston       | 1959     AUS |    32.5    39.0    41.5 U2000 Eq 1st $100

3  5.0  21 Paevskiy,Igor        | 1969     AUS |    29.0    34.5    36.5 U2000 Eq 1st $100


In the Major Division for Under 1800 ACF rated players, there were 77 players with a large number of chances to take out the tournament. Running over 7 rounds with a Friday night game, there were a number of players who took a bye in round 1 including the champion, Nathaniel Young, who then scored 6/6 to win the event outright with 6.5/7 – not bad for someone making their comeback to chess after 2 years out of the game!

In 2nd position with 6/7 was local Liam Ryan who has more recently been a victim of the ACF rating system where a higher rated can be annihilated upon a return to chess after many years out of the game – showing that his current 1576 rating is well below where is should be. 3rd went to an Iranian visitor, Mahdi Pakgohar (5.5/7) who was here to undertake the FIDE Arbiters seminar on the following days, whilst there was a pack of players on 5/7 including gun junior Jayden Ooi who may not be eligible for rating restricted event for much longer!

Winner Nathaniel Young with CAQ President Mark Stokes

Major Prize Winners:

1st Nathaniel Young      6.5/7   $600

2nd Liam Ryan               6/7      $350

3rd Mahdi Pakgohar     5.5/7   $250

Group A

Diego Aldana                  5/7     $50

Aiden Brady                   5/7     $50

Bernard Sakran            5/7     $50

Group B

Dulin Kodituwakku      4/7     $75

Micah Young                 4/7     $75


The Minor division saw a field of 67 players, in what is often a mostly junior saturated event with this year being no exception. At the end of the day though it was an adult atop the standings, with PJ Bargo coming out of retirement to win the tournament with 5.5/6, ahead of Armaan Kundal, Jazz Born and Filip Simic with 5/6.

Winner PJ Bargo with CAQ President Mark Stokes

Minor Prize Winners:

1st Peter-John Bargo   5.5/6 $500

=2nd Filip Simic           5/6     $170

Jazz Born                        5/6     $170

Armaan Kundal             5/6     $170

Group A

Harry Brown                  3.5/6   $150

Group B

Keon Poon                      4.5/6   $75

Austin Hamilton            4.5/6   $75


Of this type of event is not possible with the wonderful support of our sponsors. First and foremost is the Quality Hotel at Mermaid Waters and the Lonestar Tavern for their hospitality! The Chess Association of Queensland for their continued support of chess within our state, AuNix Internet and Telecommunications for their live game stream and technical nouse in the commentary room, and finally Trophy Innovations and Engraving who help us with all our trophies.

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